• Memories of our youth: the viral spread of radio station Facebook posts

      McMahon, Daithí; University of Derby (University of Westminster Press, 2020-03-17)
      Radio and social media have developed a strong relationship in Ireland since the explosion in popularity of the latter from 2008 onward. Although the convergence of radio with Facebook in Ireland has allowed radio stations to reach wider audiences, some stations have been much more successful than others at achieving this. In this article the author presents a case study of Beat, a regional commercial radio station targeting the ‘digitally native’ (Palfrey and Gasser, 2010) millennial 15–34-year-old market, and one of the Irish Radio Industry’s most successful viral media instigators. During the period of study, 2011–2016, Beat was found to be very successful at engaging its audience through bespoke material that connected emotionally with the cultural community. The success of this viral reach helped the station grow its online followers to numbers that far outnumbered their actual listenership. In this article the author presents an analysis of the viral posts that feature childhood toys as the subject matter and explore why these pieces ‘went viral’. Using the generational theories of Mannheim (1952) and Strauss and Howe (1991) among others to frame the argument, the author posits that users share media texts which connect with them emotionally and by enjoying this material with others are unified as an affective community of individuals. This experience brings the group closer together and closer to the radio station. I also touch on the power of nostalgia as a factor in the viral spread of media texts. This research employed several research methods: in-depth interviews with radio industry professionals, an online survey of radio listeners/online users of Beat, textual analysis of Beat’s Facebook page, direct observation of radio producers and content analysis of social media growth.